I was 11 and mispelled "betta" because I was naming myself after my fish (rest in peace bettaband).
Now I get Mizal calling me a beta :(. The term wasn't even a thing when my account was created.
But betaband is a cool name. The letter beta was a thing already 4000 years ago, today it would be pronounced vita, like life. Furthermore band always makes me think of electromagnetic transmission bands. Particularly betaband reminds me of the beta-hydrogen line, a blue spectral line of hydrogen, the most abundant atom in the universe. So its actually a pretty cool SciFi name.
Lol she challenged me to a toggle duel. Denied. Rock Paper scissors it is.
I love this idea though!
Behold, FemWolvering, the mighty and terrifying war dance of my people!
Also when do we get the prompts?
I'm going to be so angry if she fails to show up because she thought it was an rps duel instead of a writing duel.
mizal im asking that you ignore this request. i'm studying for college exams and still have time to write
The true purpose of exams. Smart play, lumenardee, smart play.
It'd be really cool to partake in a tournament style contest with a bracket of one on one duels like this. It'd be an interesting twist on the regular storygame contests we do here, though I guess it would be kind of a nightmare to moderate.
I'm late to the party, but I would partake in this tournament.
That does sound pretty cool.
Really easy to moderate, in fact. You just tag people in and make them do all the work of reviewing. If they do a bad review or don't show up, doc them 10 points or send asbestos in the mail. Otherwise, you reward them a meager and meaningless quantity of points. Simple.
it's not really a duel if people barge into the ring to try to club one of the contestants to death while calling the other a coward
Honestly, this thread was pretty boring until you called Mizal a bitch and blew up at everyone, so I'm actually glad you did it. Lol.
Aggression is good; its the opposite of depression and an excellent source of energy. Use this fire to fuel your work. Don't waste it on trolls, they don't burn well anyway.
mizal was teasing you to help you over the goal line, I think.
OK I am honored to be part of such an illustrious group of judges.
First, let's get this out of the way: This almost feels like a poll on the point of paragraph breaks in writing.
The first story has an abundance of them while the second tries to get by without them.
As a result the first story is a much easier read then the second. However, this is probably due to editor issues, and since I have made my fair share of formatting mistakes on this site, I chose to ignore it in my assessment.
Apart form this obvious difference there are a lot of similarities, both stories are situated on the fairy-tale end of the fantasy spectrum, which is possibly due to the prod. Both clung relatively narrowly to the theme and in both stories the ending felt a bit rushed. Actually I found it interesting how there is this little catch at the end of "Rising.." where she briefly can't remember the fire. This could have been set up better, but it puts a bit of extra tension in that was needed at this point, while "Dar.k..." takes a very predicatable turn from the start of the battle.
For me perhaps the greatest difference was how the characters were set up. While Prince Ivon is only briefly introduced, we learn a lot about Princess Ryiah's normal life. As a result she feels like a real person and I cared much more about her.
The real struggle in "Rising..." seems to be with the princesses' father which gives her an interesting social complexity. I found it interesting how she needs to gather her courage to face her father, while punching a god (great line, made me smile) is barely worth the mention.
"Dark..." really scores in terms of side characters, the dog(?) and the phoenix came across really well, thanks to brilliant dialog.
Dark phoenix also had a nice message, about the value of compromise ("You are the first who didn't try to kill me"). Unfortunately the deep insight then goes out the window, when
we happily go and just kill the other phoenix, which pops into the story almost out of nowhere.
So all things considered I would say this is pretty close, but, by a phoenix feather's breadth, my vote goes to "rising".
In terms of writing competency, these two stories struck me as being more alike than different, despite the many cosmetic distinctions. Both had funky dialogue punctuation, inconsistent plotting, and rushed endings, so in many ways it's a toss-up as to which is better. Therefore if I had to make a choice, then I have to go into the details a bit better.
This story perhaps stuck to the prompt better, insomuch as it hit on each of the elements. And yes, the use of paragraphs was easier on the eyes, making me want to select this story right away as my choice and avoid the "text wall" to come.
The sentence structure, though, was less variable, with a lot of subject-verb-object lines one after the other. Technically not bad, just hypnotizing in its rhythmic regularity. And the dialogue punctuation was off in a few places... although when I looked back a second time to find an example to use in this review, I see that there were also plenty of examples where the punctuation was spot on. So I guess this is an example where an initial first impression colors my perception of the rest of the story.
Plot-wise, this seems to aspire to be a much longer story, with some of the elements of an "epic," but without the heft: the Hero setting out alone on a mission, battling the elements on the trail, encountering the magical creature with the odd syntax but helpfully knowledgeable, and then the final showdown. A lot of writing effort is spent on getting from A to B to C, although to be honest not much happens, and Ivon never really seems to be in much peril. Sure, he thinks he is, and the dead bodies surrounding the first phoenix support that conclusion, but... then he hesitates, and the phoenix buddies up with him? And the second phoenix doesn't put up much of a fight?
It's like things come too easily to him, being the prince. Of course all of the other men died trying to get the feather, because they were just nameless minions. When Ivon goes and does the job himself, he gets the help he needs, and things go swimmingly for him. It pays to be royal I guess, and it sucks for everyone else.
Rising from the Ashes
So yeah, let's just get this out of the way: this story has paragraphing issues.
But looking past that, this story has more interesting sentence structure, and the characters are a bit more sharply drawn. Whereas Ivon's motivations were almost a given considering his status (and the plot requirements), Ryiah's situation was more nuanced. On the other hand, this story almost forgets the original story prompt and gets lost in a lot of details that go nowhere.
This is basically a three-part story, with three distinct scenes. The first scene isn't bad, but I'm not going to lie: it's painful to wade through for someone not steeped in the whole Disney Princess genre. And frankly, nothing really happens here; Ella is set up as a potentially interesting companion character, who might tag along on the quest and be useful in various ways. But then she falls out of the picture.
In the second scene, where the family situation is introduced, there is a jarring shift in the mood of the story: the chronically sick mother, the drunken father, the run-away brother, and the heroine filled with dread and doubts. This is less a fantasy story and close to a modern melodrama. At the same time, the author is taking a few chances here by not using the Central Casting options.
The third scene is clearly rushed and basically shoehorns the requirements of the story prompt into a short amount of space. It's not bad really, but it treats all of the interesting details of the trek as if they were trivial. This sentence sums up my point:
"She had finally reached Killing Cay which was a relief, because in the past few days, she had trekked through mountains, walked through entire kingdoms, got caught up in a mob, fought off a wild bear, and so much more."
"She had finally reached Killing Cay which was a relief, because in the past few days, she had trekked through mountains, walked through entire kingdoms, got caught up in a mob, fought off a wild bear, and so much more."
Whoa, wait? Mountains, kingdoms, mobs, wild bears, and more? Then why was I asked to suffer through all that stuff about pastries and dresses? This is where the story really should be. Don't just gloss over this stuff -- give us the details!
So the first story is probably slightly more coherent, in that it is organized into a recognizable beginning/middle/end format, and the princess story loses its way here and there. On the other hand, that first story takes fewer chances and attempts to dazzle us with stock-in-trade story elements; the writing is not bad, but not wonderful, and the characters are flat.
The second story has its issues, but the writing had passages that intrigued me more. That second passage set up a more engaging character motivation, and if even if all the thrilling stuff was glossed over, Ryiah's quest was clearly more interesting than Ivon's.
Therefore I'll cast my vote for "Rising from the Ashes."
I like the first one, mostly because I could read it without my eyes losing their place. The fact that the second one doesn't even have a Tovar in it also deteriorates its value.
Hear hear! We agree most concordantly. Why, a phoenix story with nary a Tovar to be found, be hardly a phoenix story of any description!
I'm looking forward to reading these later tonight.
Ha. Exposed for what I am.
There are no succubus titties unfortunately
Maybe future duels will feature some
We might have to go to the little-known and extraordinarily deadly tiebreaker round.
I vote for the first one. The second story's prose style was the key feature that decided it for me. The two big things were great use of cliche/formulaic writing and extra-sweet writing. Cliche-wise, in the first bit alone we have "stumbling" out of bed, making a beeline, and piercing eyes, as well as the formula of all formulas, starting with the protagonist waking up in bed. "She exchanged a teary goodbye with Ella and her family, also with some of the maids who she knew and liked. Then she took a deep breath and walked through the palace gates, sparing one last glance back at the place she called home." -- that's a few lines that I would call wholly cliche.
The prose of the second entry over-relies on adjectives and adverbs to do all the heavy lifting, which *feels* to writers sometimes like good description, but more frequently serves to get in the way of the narration and loses reader interest. The "short red hair and piercing blue eyes" is symptomatic--this feels to the beginning writer like description--hair color, check, eye color, check, but doesn't really tell the reader much. I don't actually care what color eyes she has. I just met her. What's so piercing about her eyes? Or is that just shorthand for "my female character is tough"? Similarly, if you say she stumbled to the curtains, I know she's sleepy; if you tell me her pajamas are silk, I know they are soft. If someone is glaring, and also scowling, that may be one facial expression too many. And so forth.
I don't mean to bag overly on this entry, but I offer these words in the spirit of improvement. You have about ten seconds to snare your reader, and descriptions of clothes may not be the thing. Let the description of your protagonist come naturally. Show me what she does. Let the physical be secondary to the narrative.
I don't mean to suggest entry one is perfect in this regard, but entry two had more problems with prose style, and in the end, I'm all about prose style.
half the cys population wants to see corgi lose to an illiterate child and doesn't care what it takes
Fortunately we have people like Berka, Gower, and even Enter. I don't know what's wrong with the other people.
biased as hell
All the people who think I should have won have been duly noted
And added to the real nigga list
Bruh you have possibly lost to a little girl if my inkling is correct.
Lose my number.
Are you trying to get excommunicado from the real nigga list? What a shame
And to think I even stood up for your father daughter time
I won this by a lot
Victory has never felt better
he was just doing a throwback to old school coins posts
HE WON THIS DUEL BY A LOT!
Yes, congrats fenwolv good job
We did poorly this season but the competition was rough. We'll do better next time.
I blame the quality of voters chosen, and by extension, mizal. Like, who is Northwind? What's he about? His story? I might be wording these as questions, but I don't want these answers.
It's his fault and no else's that Corgi has been beaten up by children once again. Once more embarrassing his pa and father, and not to mention, his countless lovers that span many genders.
Wow, that's one small kingdom! Must've settled for Rhode Island; maybe they arrived late to the continent and had to settle for scraps. I liked the way it was revealed that the main character isn't exactly stricken with moral duties, first when leaving and more dramatically when returning, which made for a great twist. The phoenix dilemma was a nice spin. I didn't think the mention of Elven magic held as much weight as it could've, but the hints at what the mount might be -- without revealing it -- made up for that. Fun little story.
Interesting story and well written. Also liked the idea a lot. However, some details actually take the wind out of its sails a little bit. Asking her father for permission makes the protagonist look tamer than her otherwise bad-ass attitude suggests. Also in the beginning we never get to see if she actually cares for her mother. Sure she volunteers but I had the impression that it's more because she is eager on the adventure. At least she thinks about her mother's coming demise in pretty matter-of-factly terms.
The way to make this really hard-hitting as a dark fantasy tale is probably to move away from the linear structure. I would actually start at the end, then tell of the hunt in a flashback.
Nah its fine how it is
800-1600 word stories work best using the standard old structure usually
Ah right, I see now you had a different vision for this. Sorry for trying to push this in a direction where it was not meant to be.
I think making the hunt anti-climatic was a great choice, really drives home the point that this is about something else.
I am now almost wondering if she can be more selfless in the beginning such that the transformation. The 'you will burn as well' is already a super cool dark fantasy twist. Now my mind is going along the lines: What if learning this really affects her and turns the selfless princess into the proper evil calculating monarch. She hasn't found the cure for the queen, but she found the queen within herself and is now ready to take the reins.
I agree that a nonlinear variant would probably have cut this down to about 800 words (and yes I am unreasonably in love with very short stories). But I see the flashback less than a narrative device (although it can be one) and more as a solution to a common problem. As a reader I really want the deep immersion; I know, to others this is not so important. Time jumps tend to be a mild immersion breaker. We leave the character and rejoin them at a later time. By contrast in a flashback I can be with the character all the time remember the past with them.
The more I am thinking about this the more I think these characters deserve a longer story. Will we get one? Or a CYOA?
Dang, nice twist lol
I love how the royal family are all assholes
Mizals response to Northwind confirms what I had suspected.
That the royal family have a lot of enemies (probably within their kingdom too) which is why the princess leaving is such a big deal.
I'm sort of wondering if the big deal about the princesses magic capabilities having something to do with the kingdoms defense is supposed to be like how in actual medieval times a lot of nobles received various combat training. Except the twist in this case is the same scenario but with magic instead, and only wealthy and powerful people have access to it.
That's what Im assuming anyways.
It all makes sense why the royal family would need to be so cold and ruthless as it literally means survival.
I'm liking how this story gives us stuff to think about and speculate on. I feel most of Mizals writing tends to be more light hearted and with brighter toned stories (Inseparable aside that I can remember.)
But it seems like she has a knack for writing grim stuff too which is really cool.
Well, what I meant is that it can be serious but have a more upbeat tone. You'll finish one at some point.
You should just submit two entries
Or 30 entries even
The light in the jungle was failing. The last red rays of the sinking sun that filtered through the foliage were swallowed by heavy swaths of smoke. Yet Alyssia ran on, breaking through the undergrowth, dodging tree-trunks by mere instinct, her own lean black body a fleeting shadow.
She had been running like this for days, following the call, running for her life. Yet she was calm. She wouldn't give in to the fatigue or be distracted by the stones that cut her feet or the thorns that scratched her body. Not when her prey was close. She hadn't caught a glimpse of it yet, but it's call rang out loud and clear.
“Beep...Beep...Beep,” called the phoenix.
Not far now. The bird was near and so was the fire. But then the enormous trunk of a giant tree materialized out of the blackness ahead. Which way now?
“Room 344, please come in and close the door,” said a kind voice.
Alyssia stumbled to a halt, looking for the speaker, spear held ready.
“Patient APH-06-097442, African American, female, 23 years, ” the kind voice continued. It belonged to a small monkey that clung to a low branch. Now that Alyssia had spotted one monkey, she saw there was a troupe of them.
“We have had her for five days,” kind-voice continued. “She has been delirious for the last three, fever is high, but vitals still stable.”
“Won't be like this for long,” an older monkey said grumpily. “We have her mother as well, over on 4B. Apparently this one got infected driving her to the ER. Stupid. Well, looks like mum will survive her by a week or two. The young ones, they go so much faster.”
“Are you sure? She looks so strong,” another monkey said, his voice a hopeful baritone.
“Of course I am sure,” says grumpy. “Against this new mutation, the body has no defenses. It's their strength that kills the young ones. Immune system goes into overdrive and then the cytokine storm takes them. It's Spanish Flu all over again.”
It was true, Alyssia, could feel the storm coming, so she ran, faster than before. For a while she heard the monkeys chattering behind her, but paid them no heed, and as the first lighting struck they scattered altogether.
“Beep.Beep.Beep.Beep,” called the phoenix.
The lightning storm raged for hours. It brought no rain, but spawned thousands more fires. Now, the whole jungle was glowing, every tree a smoldering torch. Heavy smoke made Alyssia choke as the heat from the fire became unbearable. Soon her skin started to crack and flake. Yet, she stumbled on until a wall of flames blocked her way. It was there that the monkeys found her again.
“Tachycardia, oxygen stable at 74, fever 108.8,” the kind-voiced monkey said.
“Perhaps more icepacks—” hopeful ventured.
“No point.” interrupted grumpy, whose own tail was on fire, “That's it. Game over. She's burning up.”
‘Then, see me shine,’ thought Alyssia as she ran toward the inferno.
“BeepBeepBeepBeepBeep,” called the phoenix.
She watched as the spear in her hand shone bright and soon exploded in a shower of sparks. The hand that held it became a shining torch. For a brief moment all was light. Then blackness fell.
“This might sting a little.” In the end there was no phoenix. The jungle had become a smoldering desert. Burnt stumps of giant trees dotted the devastated landscape like the ruined castles from some fantasy tale. If there ever was a phoenix it had burned and wasn't reborn.
When the first rain drops fell in the predawn glow Alyssia watched them hiss and sizzle. But the rain persisted and soon banished the residual heat from the scorched earth. Small rivulets formed and ran down the burnt hills to join dirty black flows. It was a mess, but such is life.
The monkeys found her again just as the first light of dawn pierced her eyes.
“Iris reflexes are normal. Temperature down to 99.5,” said hopeful. “We have started to bring her slowly out of the coma. She should be awake in an hour or so.”
“How's she even alive?” asked kind-voice.
“Lab results' just came back,” hopeful said, “She started producing antibodies. Lab is isolating them right now for replication.”
“Against the new strain...” grumpy said, sounding more amazed then grumpy, “...that's...I must go at once.”
True to his word, he departed immediately, scrambling across the blacked landscape on his short monkey legs. Most of the troupe followed him, leaving only kind-voice and hopeful by Alyssia's side. For the while they sat in silence, watching the other monkeys vanish among the rain-swept hills.
“What's her name?” hopeful asked eventually.
“Let's see, Alyssia P. Hunter.”
“What's the ‘P’ stand for?”
“Your guess is as good as mine.”
Well observed! You get the SciFi feel because of language of the monkeys. They talk in short sharp sentences with a lot of technical sounding numbers thrown in, including decimals. Tells you they are technically minded people. They want to convey precise information in short words. Note that they even (intentionally) drop some articles which should grammatically be there. The grumpy monkey is an exception. I wanted him to be an older doctor, who has lost his edge over the years, so I made him a little bit more verbose. This hopefully makes him seem more like a talker and less professional.
The contrast between the long flowing sentences of the narration and the technical talk of the monkeys made this fun to write for me.
A unique take. I like that it captured the feel of a larger world, and had an 'unreliable narrator' perspective.
I love these very short formats because you can go a bit crazy in ways that would get boring in a longer piece. I think three times is really the maximum that I could have the monkeys show up.
Seeing multiple takes on a prompt is really cool. Maybe we should have a short story competition from time to time.